Trauma Awareness Month:
Celebrating the Strength
of Survivors, Families,
and Trauma Professionals

 

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt

Super Survivors

Highlighting Pediatric Trauma Survivor
(Now Pediatric Nurse/TSN Teammate), Kacey
Kacey's Survivor Story

On August 31st 2002, at the age of 15, I was in a pretty serious car accident.  As a previously healthy teenager, my world was flipped upside down in a matter of seconds.  We had just finished our final field hockey pre-season practice, and I was looking ahead at a promising sophomore year with the varsity team.  The seniors offered to carpool to our team’s annual post pre-season barbeque, so five of us hopped into my teammates car.  Little did we know when we clicked our seatbelts into the buckle, it was probably the most crucial decision of our lives, or we may not be here today.

After pulling out of our parking spot, the accelerator stuck and the car took off erratically.  My teammate did her best to gain control as we headed onto an embankment, side swiping parallel-parked cars.  Making a sharp turn to miss a tree, we ended up going head on into the cement foundation of our school, only about 30 seconds after starting the car.  I remember seeing the wall but then everything went black.  When I came to, I was in shock.  I felt frozen in place and time, unable to hear, move or speak, to help myself or anyone else.  It was almost like an out of body experience.  I was in the back seat, behind the driver.  The seat had caved in, twisting my body, and causing the shoulder strap to traverse my abdomen.  The next thing I knew, someone was holding me up outside the car.  They were asking me for my parents phone number, and I remember barely being able to take in a breath to get the numbers out.   Police and ambulances were arriving at the scene, and I could see tons of people, including other athletes at practice and teachers who were in the building.  They all had swarmed to the site, thinking there was an explosion.  They were still working with the jaws of life to get my friend out of the car and I really didn’t know what happened and if anyone was ok, including myself.  All I knew was my back felt like it was crushed.   I was put in a collar, lowered onto a stretcher and whisked away in an ambulance.
Once the CAT scan results were read at our town hospital, I was immediately transferred to the nearest trauma center due to my injuries.  I had sustained a laceration to my right renal artery, from which my kidney had lost all blood flow, my liver was severely lacerated, and I had broken my ankle, among several contusions to my diaphragm, arm and ribs.  Hearing these things as a 15 year old, I truly thought I may die that day and the doctors did not deny any possibilities when I asked.  That feeling of facing your own mortality is one that definitely leaves a scar. 
I spent the next month and a half very sick, in and out of the hospital.  The doctors were having trouble finding the reason for my ongoing jaundice, nausea and vomiting. I was on bed-rest for a long period of time, unable to keep down much for food, and became quite de-conditioned.  After lots of scans and tests, they finally found my common bile duct was also injured.  I went through multiple procedures, some failed, and once successful, we were still unsure if they would be a permanent fix or if I would need a more serious surgery in the future.
 
What was recovery like? 
Recovering from my accident was difficult from a physical and medical standpoint, but looking back I think the hardest part was the emotional stress.  The anticipation of my injuries and what it would take to get back to normal, missing a huge year in field hockey, an entire marking period of school as a straight 'A' student, award ceremonies, dances, and just connecting with friends and doing what any sophomore in high school would expect to be doing.  It was also scary to go home and trust that my body was really ok on the inside, when several times it turned out it wasn’t.

Why did you want to get involved with the TSN program? Or Why do you want to share your story with other survivors/loved ones?
I wanted to share my story because I want other trauma survivors to know, everyone’s experience with trauma is significant no matter what the story is.  For years I beat myself up for struggling with stress after my accident, because I knew people go through way worse.  I was so thankful to survive and recover physically, so I didn’t understand why I should be struggling and feel frustrated.  I expected to just be able to jump right back into life where I left off, but the reality is that, although I was strong and positive on the outside going through my hospitalizations, it really took a toll on me, and I also needed to process all of that and recover from the emotional stress.  I didn’t realize I needed to heal in that way. 
That whole year was a rollercoaster, but one thing I knew, was that this happened for a reason and I had a bigger purpose in life because of it.  Since the accident, I decided that I need to help people in this situation and went on to be a pediatric nurse in the Surgical and Trauma Unit at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).  I am now a Clinical Nurse Expert in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.  Over the past ten years as a nurse I have always tried to think of a way to better support our trauma patients beyond the care at the bedside.  I brainstormed many ideas and shared them with my supervisor.  She had just learned of TSN and told me about it.  I couldn’t believe there existed a program that stole all of the words from my mouth.  It validated what I needed in my recovery and what I believe all trauma patients need.  I quickly began working with our Trauma Program to help with our first National Trauma Survivors Day celebration, and was on-boarded as a Trauma Site Coordinator for CHOP, along with our Trauma Social Worker.  I am so thankful to be connected with TSN, and I can’t wait to become more involved as a volunteer and to expand resources at CHOP for our trauma survivors and their families.

-- Kacey
 
Highlighting Trauma Survivor, Jeff
Jeff's Survivor Story

On May 3rd, 2012, I miraculously survived a near-fatal car accident when my truck was struck by another truck that failed to stop at a 4-way flashing red stop light near our home. My vehicle was then pushed into and wrapped around a concrete pole. During this second impact, I suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) when my head hit the aforementioned utility pole.
What was recovery like? 
Now, honestly, I can't remember much of what took place for the first few weeks following my brain injury. Yet there is one thing I can vividly recall. I remember being told over and over again that people who'd suffered an injury like mine would need to find their “new normal," because who they were before was a thing of the past.
But I refused to believe what they were telling me. From the very start, my goal was to return to my old normal, to regain my former self, to simply go back to living my old life.
  • I wanted to be the same husband.
  • I wanted to be the same father.
  • I wanted to be the same son.
  • I wanted to be the same friend.
  • I wanted to be the same doctor.
  • I wanted to have the same personality.
  • I wanted to have the same hobbies. 
And because I grew up having the mindset that anything was possible with enough hard work, determination, I was extremely confident in my chances of getting back every single one of these. But after months of doing all I could to get back what I’d lost, I finally came to a very humbling realization. The normal I knew, the normal I’d grown used to, the normal I was comfortable with had left and it wasn’t coming back.
After this epiphany, I did something I never thought I'd do.
I gave up!
At first, I was embarrassed because over what I'd just done. Giving up meant that I’d failed. Giving up meant I hadn't achieved what I’d set out to achieve.  I also assumed a lot of people would judge me for it. They’d say I should’ve tried harder or at least given it some more time. You know, if I’m being completely honest, there are even times I still say these things to myself. But I've come to understand that none of these are true. They are all lies.
Because here’s the truth! Giving up was absolutely necessary for me to start moving on following my brain injury. You see, without giving up on my old normal, finding and learning to accept my new normal would have never started.
Why did you want to get involved with the TSN program? Or Why do you want to share your story with other survivors/loved ones?
I know that many people will never experience what it's like to have a brain injury. They won't have to navigate all the drastic life changes that come along with one. But I know that everyone will experience some type of change at some point in their life. And I’m sharing my story with the hope it helps these people. Because when change inevitably comes, I think it's important to know when to give up on what used to be and how to grab hold of what is now.

-- Jeff
Highlighting Trauma Survivor, Danielle

Danielle's Survivor Story

I'm so grateful to have a life that makes me happy, an amazing husband, a career that gives me so much fulfillment and the inner strength to keep going if any challenge comes my way
 
But it wasn't always that way. Back in 2011 I came to the US from the UK as a leading fitness model and trainer. Within 3 months of working I was hit by an SUV and almost died. My whole world fell apart. I had multiple fractures, brain injury, memory loss, knocked out my teeth, metal rods in my body and to top it off...my long term boyfriend dumped me over the phone whilst in hospital. I didn't know who I was anymore. I was trapped in a body and life I didn't recognize and faced a long road ahead. I was so depressed, anxious, sad and alone that I just wanted to binge eat and sleep away the days.
 
What was recovery like? 
I would cry every time I looked in the mirror. Who is this person? Who's life is this? I just wanted to give up and hide away. One night I sat alone on the sofa crying my eyes out and wishing my mum was still alive. My mind began to wander and I started to think about her giving up on life and drinking herself to death within 18 months of my parents divorce.
I knew I couldn't go down that road and give up on life like she did. I had to face my problems and find the strength to rebuild my life and keep going no matter what. I would fight every day for my body and mind that I would walk miles with my walker every day with no teeth in the middle of Beverly Hills. 

Why did you want to get involved with the TSN program? Or Why do you want to share your story with other survivors/loved ones?
These days my life is much happier as I have a new way of living. I've managed to beat the anxiety and depression, meet the love of my life, get married, have a career that gives me such meaning and joy, knowing that I'm able to give back to the world and later this year (2019),  I'm about to welcome our first baby.
So that's why I'm so passionate about helping other survivors who have suffered a traumatic injury. I want to help them find the strength to keep going and to come out the other side with a life they love. Because if you know anyone who has struggled with traumatic injuries, you know that it can be very challenging.

-- Danielle
 

Welcome New TSN Sites

The American Trauma Society would like to welcome these Trauma Centers and Rehabilitation Hospitals, who have just started a TSN program in the last few months. Click on each trauma center name to learn more about this TSN program or to contact the TSN Coordinator there.

West Virginia University Medicine, Ruby Memorial Hospital
Morgantown, WV

Geisinger Community Medical Center 
Scranton, PA

Cleveland Clinic Akron General
Akron, OH

Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport 
Shreveport, LA

Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center 
Wilkes-Barre, PA

 

TSN Program Highlights 
 
3rd Annual Trauma Survivors Reunion
at Community Regional Medical Center
in Fresno, CA
The Trauma, Acute Care Surgery, and TSN Teams at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, CA recently hosted their 3rd Annual Trauma Survivors Reunion. They welcomed many of their severely injured patients from past years, along with their families, to honor their courage in healing and to give them an opportunity to reunite with local EMS teams and the trauma medical teams who provided life-saving care. Several survivors also spoke to share their stories and their gratitude for life-saving care. 

Special thanks to Dr. Andrea Long, Trauma Surgeon; Eliana Troncale, TSN Coordinator; and the Community Regional Medical team who volunteered countless hours to create such a meaningful and successful celebration. 

Pediatric TSN Research Published through Collaboration with American Trauma Society, Atrium Health Levine Children's, and
Journal of Trauma Nursing

 
The Journal of Trauma Nursing recently published a Special Pediatric Issue, which highlights the Development and Implementation of the Pediatric Trauma Survivors Network Program at Atrium Health Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, NC. Their Pediatric TSN Coordinator is Jessie Levy. Through collaboration with the American Trauma Society and generous funding through the Baxter Foundation, this research shares the efforts of many trauma and research professionals as well as pediatric trauma survivors and their families. Together, they participated in focus groups to share their stories and provide guidance. They worked to begin Pediatric TSN services to support children, teens, and families who experience traumatic injury and move forward in their healing process. 

Special thanks to Dr. Brian Scannell, Dr. Rachel Seymour, Dr. Anna Newcomb, Meghan Wally, Eileen Flores, Jessie Levy, Meghan Waddell, and the Atrium Trauma Research Group for your dedication and support of pediatric survivors and their families. 
Special Event Highlighting
Survivor and Musician, David Francisco,
in Knoxville, TN
On April 27th, Trauma Survivor, Musician, and American Idol Alum, David Francisco, returned home to Knoxville, TN to celebrate his 3 year survivor anniversary of the bicycle collision that would change his life. Just 3 years ago, while riding his bicycle and crossing an intersection, he was hit by a distracted driver that ran a red light and crashed into him. At that time, David sustained a spinal cord injury leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Click to read David's full Survivor Story here. Since his injury and ongoing recovery, David has continued to encourage and inspire survivors with his story of hope and determination and by sharing his music. 

On this survivor anniversary, David launched his new single “Lionheart” which served as his anthem during his darkest days of healing and recovery. By sharing this song and his journey, David hopes to empower other survivors as well. David shares that after in adjusting to his new normal, he grieved for what he lost, dedicated his life to continued healing, and never gave up Hope.

University of Tennessee Medical Center's TSN Coordinator, Therese Zaltash, and TSN Peer Visitor, Carly, both participated in this special event with David and his family. Therese has been a friend to David and his family both before and after his traumatic injury and continues to encourage David as he grows his musical career and supports other survivors. Special thanks to David Francisco for sharing his music with us. 

Watch David's inspirational "Lionheart" music video with his music and scenes from his early phases of recovery here.
 
TSN Peer Visitors and Survivors Empowered
to Advocate for Trauma Survivors
with U.S. Congress Members
Each year, several national trauma organizations including the American Trauma Society, partner together with legislative professionals from TCAA to visit the offices of U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senators to connect, inform, and request support for trauma-specific policies. TSN Peer Visitors and Survivors from Inova Trauma Center, George Washington University Hospital, and the American Red Cross participated by sharing their personal survivor stories with members of Congress. Trauma surgeons and trauma medical professionals also shared why supporting specific bills to improve trauma care is so important.

TSN Peer Visitor, Rebekah K shared: "I felt so honored to be apart of something so important This was my first time doing anything like this! I had never even stepped foot into any of those buildings, let alone been close to them! I was definitely out of my comfort zone . . . but I did it because I knew I had to share my story in  the hopes of making positive changes for future survivors. I have a strong passion for helping other survivors know they are not alone and there are people who care about them!" 

Special thanks to Clay, Rebekah K., Rebekah Y., and Brian who shared their survivor stories to represent the voice of trauma survivors. 
National ATS-TSN Coordinator Trainings:
March and June
The American Trauma Society and National Trauma Survivors Network partnered with the TSN and Trauma Teams at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, OH to host a National TSN Coordinator 2-Day Training. Hanger Clinic partnered to provide Continuing Education. Twenty-one TSN Coordinators from seventeen ATS member trauma centers from several states participated in the March 2019 training. TSN Peer Visitors from MetroHealth and AMPOWER Peers from Hanger Clinic also shared their survivor stories and why they volunteer to provide peer to peer support. One TSN Coordinator shared, "Great course! Excellent organization and information with heart!" Another TSN Coordinator stated, "Loved meeting Peer Visitors!"

Special thanks to Dr. Heather Vallier, Dr. Jeff Claridge, Sarah Hendrickson, Megen Simpson, Christina Ragone, and the MetroHealth Medical Center TSN Peer Visitors for hosting such a successful ATS-TSN Training. Special thanks to Hanger Clinic and AMPOWER Peers for sponsoring the Continuing Education and sharing their survivor stories. Special thanks to Dr. Anna Newcomb and Eileen Flores from the American Trauma Society for their part in organizing the course. 

Registration is still open for participants from ATS member hospitals to reserve a spot at the upcoming June 10-11 ATS-TSN Coordinator Training in Knoxville, TN. This upcoming training will be hosted by University of Tennessee Medical Center and their TSN Team. For more information about attending this ATS-TSN Coordinator Course, click here

You Can Get Involved During 
Trauma Awareness Month! 

TSN and ATS T-shirts:
So far this year, the TSN Fundraiser has sold over 530 TSN-ATS T-shirts, raising over $6,000 to directly support the National TSN Program! A special thanks to everyone who has already purchased a TSN-ATS T-shirt. We hope you will wear your shirt with pride throughout Trauma Awareness Month and all year long! Please send your picture wearing your shirt to eflores@amtrauma.org to be highlighted during the month of May on TSN Social Media! We want to hear how you have chosen to Survive. Connect, and Rebuild while adjusting to the new normal after trauma. Or you can share why you support trauma survivors. 

If you would still like to order an ATS-TSN shirt, you can order here by May 31st. 
Join Brian's Race for Trauma Survivors
through Donating Blood to the American Red Cross!

 
Brian is a Trauma Survivor, Athlete, and Advocate for blood donation. After a serious car accident with life-threatening injuries, Brian (and his family) spent two months with Brian on life support in a coma. During this time frame, he underwent 14 major operations, received 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments. Read his full survivor story here

After years of healing, both physically and mentally, Brian competes in many races and athletic events to raise awareness and support for trauma survivors and the importance of blood donation. On May 19, Brian will be running in the American Red Cross Run for the Red Pocono Marathon in PA. For each of the 26 miles Brian is running, he asks for one person to donate blood. 

To join Brian's Race and donate blood to support trauma survivors, click here
 
National Trauma Survivors Day is May 15, 2019.
On this specific day, Trauma Survivors, Family Members and Friends of Survivors, as well as Trauma Professionals are invited to share their support for survivors.
You can write a personal message of support and share a picture with your sign on TSN Social Media using #Trauma Survivors Day or #NTSD. May 15th will be a big day of support for trauma survivors. Print your National Trauma Survivors Day SIGN here

Special thanks to the TSN Team and Survivors at Penn Presbyterian Trauma Center in Philadelphia, PA for giving us a "sneak peek" at their awesome signs for this year! 
Connect with the TSN on social media:


Contact Eileen Flores, National TSN Coordinator to:
  • Join the TSN
  • Share your story
  • Get more information
eflores@amtrauma.org
www.traumasurvivorsnetwork.org
Copyright © 2018, American Trauma Society, All rights reserved.

Trauma Survivors Network
c/o American Trauma Society
201 Park Washington Court - Falls Church, VA 22046
800-556-7890 / info@amtrauma.org

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.